Roy Hodgson has claimed Ruben Loftus-Cheek will become an important player for Chelsea next season, as he suggested the former Crystal Palace loanee might be a better player than German legend Michael Ballack.
Loftus-Cheek spent last season on loan at Selhurst Park primarily under the tutelage of the former England boss where he blossomed in the top flight, making 24 appearances in a midfield role which returned two goals, three assists and a place in the Three Lions World Cup squad.
The England international struggled to make an impact in Chelsea’s first team despite making his senior bow in 2014 before going on to make just six league starts for the Blues – a return which Hodgson expects to change dramatically next season.
The 70-year-old is confident Loftus-Cheek will convince his parent club to entrust him with a more regular role when speaking to the Daily Mail about the possibility of him making a return to the Eagles.
“It’s up in the air. At the end of the day he belongs to Chelsea. If they decide to loan him out again we will be first in line with the begging bowl,” he said.
“But right now there is no intimation that they are thinking of doing that. We’ve made it clear to them and to Ruben that we would love to work with him again.
“It will be a long shot I fear because I think he’s so good, and I think he may show that in this World Cup. He will go back to Chelsea and they will be very happy with what they have got.”
Hodgson is in fact bursting with praise for the England youngster as he went on to compare the 22-year-old with Germany legend and former Chelsea man Michael Ballack.
“He has great acceleration driving with the ball at opposing players. He’s excellent, very receptive. He responds very well to the kind of coaching we do and the discipline I’ve always had in my teams. He’s a pleasure to coach, he really is,” he added.
“I’d say he goes by people more than Ballack did. But I think he’s got Ballack’s power and his pace and his strength, he’s definitely got that.
“But he’s maybe got more strings to his bow than even Ballack had. That’s a bold thing to say, I know, but he’s so good at going past people. He’s got that deceptive turn of pace.
“In that way he’s a bit like Jack Wilshere really. That ability to receive a ball in tight situations and then come out very quickly on the other side and open a game up.
“That’s a skill because passing players can’t do that. Passing players have to pass it and then get it back again.
“Ruben can twist and turn his way out of tight situations and, as I say, open a game up. And then he’s very powerful going forward. I think he can add more goals to his game. I’m sure he will as time goes on.”
Loftus-Cheek is expected to start England’s second World Cup group match against Panama on Sunday following the controversial leak of team notes.